This is a complete no-brainer. Hugely influential movie, big moneymaker for 1938, featuring two of the biggest stars in Hollywood and one of the most famous screen pairs of all time, and it’s during the beginning of the true Technicolor age.
Becky Sharp is the first fully-Technicolor film (three-strip. Full color), and then, after that, Hollywood starts figuring out, “All right… how do we harness this?” And the Technicolor corporation actually regulates the use of color and essentially tells the studios how to use color and what to use in each scene. That’s just the quick version.
Anyway, for the first three years or so, Hollywood is nervous about color. So they use it sparingly, and they really keep it muted. Lots of earth tones and nothing really garish. Like they thought people would freak out with an abundance of color, so they decided to keep it limited to what people thought would be realistic. And then 1938 and 1939 happened.
Between this and The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, Hollywood just said, “Fuck it,” and went for broke. And that’s why this movie looks as good as it does. (more…)